Arlington, Va. — Elizabeth L. “Betsy” Schmid has joined the Aerospace Industries Association as Vice President for National Security and Acquisition Policy, bringing extensive legislative experience on budget policy from the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.
We hear it often: It takes entirely too long to develop new military aircraft and other defense systems. We wistfully long for the bygone era when legendary outfits like Kelly Johnson’s Lockheed Skunk Works team actually went from proposal to production of a new aircraft concept, the XP-80 jet, in only 143 days.
On Tuesday, November 13, the Aerospace Industries Association held its third "Faces of the Industrial Base" outreach event on Capitol Hill. The day featured meetings with Congressional staffers and members of Congress at which leading defense suppliers warned how budget austerity is adversely impacting their ability to participate in the supply chain and attract a new generation of skilled workers. The suppliers in attendance included GSE Dynamics, UEC Electronics, Harry Krantz Company, TW Metals, Pro-Fab Inc., Innoventor, Patriot Machine, Zero Point Frontiers Corporation, NATEL, Microsemi, and McCann Aerospace Machining Corp.
AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey testified before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee November 13 regarding sequestration's long-term effects on the defense industrial base. Blakey emphasized that budget conversations have not adequately focused on the defense suppliers, companies that constitute the majority of the industrial base and have taken the brunt of sequestration budget cuts. Blakey also noted the negative impact sequestration has on defense modernization and R&D programs. "The total reduction in modernization spending over the next five years could be as high as $147 billion,” she said. “Ultimately, slashing procurement and R&D will threaten our industry's ability to deliver these capabilities in the future."
Easing the sequestor’s near-term effects under the congressional budget deal reached in late December was welcome news for our industry providing a measure of relief for important federal national security, civil aviation and space functions. But although we won’t be facing the full brunt of sequestration’s worst two years—or another government shutdown for the foreseeable future—defense spending will still be $30 billion below the President’s budget request for the year, and funding for FAA, NASA and NOAA will still be on the downward arc that began in 2010. That said, the deal represents a first step toward a long-term agreement that could eliminate sequestration altogether, reverse the current “investment deficit” in programs that make our nation strong and secure, and finally address the mandatory spending accounts that are the real drivers of our nation’s debt and deficit problems.
Between the now lamented government shutdown and the potential sequestration cuts slated for January, we are avoiding serious discussion about meeting the future needs of our nation while still addressing our deficit and debt problems.